Aldean honors Vegas on surprise visit to ‘SNL’
COUNTRY music star Jason Aldean, who was onstage Oct. 1 when gunfire erupted at Route 91 Harvest festival on the Strip, made a surprise appearance during the opening of “Saturday Night Live” tonight.
“When America is at its best, our bond and our spirit, it’s unbreakable,” Aldean said. He then paid tribute to the 58 concertgoers who were killed at Route 91 and the 489 injured and also the late Tom Petty with a cover of Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”
“This week, we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history,” the country artist said. “Like, everyone, I’m struggling to understand what happened that night and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal.”
Aldean was singing his own original “When She Says Baby,” when the shooting broke out Sunday. He has not said whether he will continue to sing the song when his tour resumes in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday night.
Shows of strength
The Strip’s newest arena and one of its lavishly appointed theaters will reportedly be the sites where Las Vegas entertainers will coalesce to show strength and support following the mass shooting.
Though not yet announced, an all-star show headlined by some of the world’s biggest touring and recording artists is being planned for T-Mobile Arena. I’m confidently informed this spectacle, which should become the largest single-day charity event ever in Las Vegas, is likely to be staged in November, based on T-Mobile’s availability.
Concurrently but unrelated to that event, a show titled “Vegas Cares” spotlighting entertainers who make Las Vegas home has been set for Venetian Theater from 1-4 p.m. on Nov. 5.
Clint Holmes, Frankie Scinta and Murray Sawchuck and The Best Agency founder
Ken Henderson are leading the “Vegas Cares” effort, which will embrace the vast Las Vegas family of performers.
Expect to see Cirque du Soleil artists, stand-up comics, magicians and musicians in the show’s running order. The event is to raise money for the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund set up by Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak.The campaign has raised more than $10 million.
The show is also to honor the first responders, healthcare professionals and others who acted selflessly and heroically amid the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
“I feel the same as everyone who is experiencing this tragedy, and it’s just shocking,” Holmes says. “I really think we need to embrace those first responders. These people are part of our family, and to honor them is reason enough to to this.”
Longtime Las Vegas producer Blair Fairington of “Baz: Star Crossed Love” at Palazzo and music director Keith Thompson (late of “Jersey Boys” at Paris Las Vegas and the founder of The Composers Showcase of Las Vegas) lead the creative team. Tickets are $30 and will be on sale later this week through The Venetian box office and Ticketmaster.
The show at T-Mobile reflects a swift response from superstars worldwide who have offered their drawing power in the week following the tragedy.
The T-Mobile show’s impact should be enormous. No entertainer is deemed too large for the event, which is so far untitled but designed to welcome stars, no matter where they performed in Las Vegas.
Organizers are using contacts with such touring heavyweights as AEG Live (a partner in T-Mobile Arena) and Live Nation.
Without naming names — talks are early and fluid — the show’s performers will include headliners at MGM Resorts’ most prominent venues (particularly The Park Theater), Caesars Entertainment Corp. theaters (including the Colosseum at Caesars Palace and Axis theater at Planet Hollywood Resort), The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and Pearl Concert Theater at the Palms.
Touring acts that have performed at T-Mobile, MGM Grand Garden Arena, Mandalay Bay Events Center and at multiday events such as Life is Beautiful are also expected to contribute.
The two shows share the spirit of the USO benefit show on Nov. 11, 2001, which was produced by Smith Center President Myron Martin and starred several Strip headliners — including Holmes and Scinta — at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The Venetian Theater event folds in the original “Vegas Cares” benefit show, set for Oct. 29 at Palazzo Theater to aid in hurricane recovery efforts. That show has been canceled. Also moved off the schedule is an Wednesday night fundraiser featuring a lineup of top chefs at Tropicana, with those resources being channeled to the new “Vegas Cares” show Nov. 5.
Jason Aldean performs “I Won’t Back Down” on “Saturday Night Live” in New York. In the show’s opening, Aldean, who was singing at the Route 91 Harvest festival when gunfire erupted Oct. 1, paid tribute to the 58 victims of the massacre and to the late Tom Petty.